Duane Swierczynski is the author of several crime thrillers, including Revolver and the Edgar-nominated Canary. He has also written for characters such as Deadpool, Punisher, Black Widow, and Cable, in addition to his work on several currently running comic series.
Recently, comiXology released Duane's painkiller-addicted, vigilante series, The Black Hood. We got a chance to talk to Mr. Swierczynski about what it's like writing novels vs. comics, his work on The Black Hood, and the current state of comics.
Check out the full interview below, as well as a full list of what's coming to (and leaving) comiXology in December!
Here at CrimeHQ, we’re more familiar with Duane Swierczynski the novelist. How does writing comics differ from writing novels? Which do you prefer?
With a comic, you’re collaborating with an artist, an editor, a letterer, a colorist—in other words, a gang of people. With a novel, it’s essentially you, a pen, and a notebook. With comics there are also space limitations; essentially, you have to fit your story into 20 or 22 pages, with each of those pages divvied up into 4 to 6 boxes. With novels, you can go on with a scene for pages and pages, whereas comics are like a series of snapshots with implied action between those photos. Those kinds of limitations can be a lot of fun, but it’s a lot more fun to play God with a novel.
What’s the collaboration process like with the artist? Do you both share a vision and work to get it on page, or does one tend to shape the other more?
I always start with the story—I pitch my editor on what I have in mind for a particular issue, then once we’re both happy, I think about the best way to tell that story in 20 or 22 pages of snapshots. Then, I start cutting everything up, thinking about pacing, big moments vs. quiet moments, etc. So by the time the script is given to the artist, I’ve already made a lot of storytelling decisions—though I try to keep it open enough to let the artist have fun, too. I view my panel descriptions as suggestions; as long as it doesn’t screw up the story, the artist can pretty much do whatever he or she wants.
The vigilante is a common but always intriguing theme—what makes the Black Hood different from other characters outside the law? What are your thoughts on the slippery slope of vigilante justice?
As far as I know, the Black Hood is the only comic book vigilante hooked on painkillers. And he has no super-powers whatsoever. I’m surprised he’s lasted this long (12 issues so far). In general, I’m against vigilante justice—unless you hurt someone I love. Then I’m very much for it.
In what ways did you derive inspiration from the different versions of the Black Hood? What makes this version unique?
I tried to make the setting (Philadelphia in the first season, California and other U.S. locales in the second season) as much of a character as possible. I wanted this version of The Black Hood to be as grounded as possible—to the point where you question if it qualifies as a “superhero” comic. (I don’t think it does.)
Philadelphia always seems to be its own unique character in your writing, how does living in the “big small town” shape your writing.
I moved away from the City of Brotherly Love six months ago, actually. I’m living in Los Angeles now, and currently writing a novel set in Vermont. So I guess I’m trying to let the whole country shape my writing these days.
What are some other Philly crime novels/comics you recommend?
Dead Philadelphians you should be reading: David Goodis, William McGivern, Edgar Allan Poe, Joseph Shallit, Seymour Shubin.
Living Philadelphians you should be reading: Jon McGoran, Dennis Tafoya, C.J. Carpenter, Robb Cadigan (Phoenixville guy, but close enough), Erik Arneson (Harrisburg guy, but close enough).
Just how much do you love Rocky? Which film is your favorite?
I grew up not far from where a lot of Rocky films were shot, so they’re kind of like watching home movies. The first three are essential; I also loved Rocky Balboa and Creed.
Were you into comics as a kid, or are they something you picked up later in life?
What’s a comic trope/cliché you hate? What’s one that you love to see?
There are no bad tropes or cliches; just lousy execution. If you’re creative enough, you can pull off anything.
What do you think of comiXology, and how is it shaping the business?
I like that funnybook readers have many ways to get their fix. I read both print and e-versions.
You’ve written for some of the bigger comics out there (X-Men, Deadpool, Punisher)—which do you think has had the best screen adaptation so far?
The gold standard remains Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2. Nothing else comes close.
What’s the next comic you’d like to see adapted for the screen?
Christa Faust’s and Gary Phillips’s Peepland.
Describe The Black Hood in 5 words
First f-bomb in Archie history.
Without spoiling it, give us a taste of what’s next for The Black Hood.
Well, right now I happen to be plotting the issue where I kill him off for good … oops, I guess that was a spoiler, wasn’t it?
If you could have any superpower what would it be?
I’d pass. With great power comes way too much responsibility.
Here are the titles joining and leaving ComiXology Unlimited (CU) today:
CU: DECEMBER 2016 ADDITIONS / SUBTRACTIONS
10 Beautiful Assassins Vol. 1 by Thomas Hart and Elmer Damaso (Seven Seas)
Amazing Agent Jennifer Vol. 1-2 by Christina Weir, Nunzio DeFilippis and Kriss Sison (Seven Seas)
Amazing Agent Luna Vol. 1-11 by Nunzio DeFilippis, Christina Weir and Shiei (Seven Seas)
AOI House Vol. 1-2 by Adam Arnold and Shiei (Seven Seas)
AOI House: In Love Vol. 1-2 by Adam Arnold and Shiei (Seven Seas)
AOI House: The Lost Episode by Adam Arnold and Shiei (Seven Seas)
Arkham Woods by Christopher Rowley and Jhomar Soriano (Seven Seas)
Army of Darkness Vol. 2 #1-6 by James Kuhoric and Fernando Blanco (Dynamite)
B.P.R.D.: The Dead #1-5 by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi and Guy Davis (Dark Horse Comics)
Battlestar Galactica: Six #1-5 by J.T. Krul, Igor Vitorino and
Rod Rodolfo (Dynamite)
The Black Hood #1-5 by Duane Swierczynski, Rachel Deering, Kelly Fitzpatrick, Francesco Francavilla and Michael Gaydos (Archie – Dark Circle Comics)
Blade for Barter Vol. 1 by Jason DeAngelis and Hai! (Seven Seas)
Captain Nemo Vol. 1 by Jason DeAngelis and Aldin Viray (Seven Seas)
Cheryl Blossom: Goes to Hollywood #1-3 by Dan Parent (Archie Comics)
Dead Already Vol. 1 by Dwayne Smith and Michael Shelfer (Seven Seas)
Destiny's Hand Vol. 1-2 by Nunzio DeFilippis, Christina Weir and Mel Calingo (Seven Seas)
Divinity Vol. 1 and #1-4 by Matt Kindt and Trevor Hairsine (Valiant Entertainment)
Dracula Everlasting Vol. 1-3 by Nunzio DeFilippis, Christina Weir and Rhea Silvan (Seven Seas)
Free Runners by by Bill Strauss and Jennyson Rosero (Seven Seas)
Godland #1-6 by Joe Casey and Tom Scioli (Image Comics)
Goldie Vance #2 by Hope Larson and Brittney Williams (BOOM! Studios)
Hellboy: The Crooked Man #1-3 by Mike Mignola and Richard Corben (Dark Horse Comics)
Hollow Fields and the Perfect Cog by Madeleine Rosca (Seven Seas)
Hollow Fields Vol. 1-3 by Madeleine Rosca (Seven Seas)
It Takes A Wizard by Thomas Hart and Sean Lam (Seven Seas)
Kirby: Genesis – Captain Victory Vol. 1 and #1-6 by Sterling Gates,
Dennis Calero, Wagner Reis, Alex Ross and Steve Scott (Dynamite)
Letter 44 Vol. 2 and #9-13 by Charles Soule and Alberto Jimenez Alburquerque (Oni Press)
Low Moon by Jason (Fantagraphics)
Megalex Vol. 1: The Anomaly by Alexandro Jodorowsky and Fred Beltran (Humanoids)
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #1 by Kyle Higgins and Hendry Prasetya (BOOM! Studios)
Moonlight Meow Vol. 1 by by Bambi Eloriaga and Roland Amago (Seven Seas)
Mr. Grieves Vol. 1 by Cooper Johnson and Jhomar Soriano (Seven Seas)
No Mercy #1-4 by Alex de Campi and Carla Speed McNeil (Image Comics)
No Man's Land Vol. 1 by Jason DeAngelis and Jennyson Rosero (Seven Seas)
Northstars Vol. 1 Welcome to Snowville by Haigen Shelley, Jim Shelley and Anna Liisa Jones (Action Lab Entertainment)
Okko: The Cycle of Water collection and #1-4 by Hub (BOOM! Studios – Archaia)
The Outcast Vol. 1 by Vaun Wilmott and Edward Gan (Seven Seas)
Ravenskull Vol. 1 by Christopher Vogler and Elmer Damaso (Seven Seas)
Ringside #1-3 by Joe Keatinge and Nick Barber (Image Comics)
Rocket Girl #1-3 by Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder (Image Comics)
Shadowman (1999) #1-6 by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Ryan Benjamin, Mat Broome,
Chris Cross and Ryan Benjamin (Valiant Entertainment)
Unearthly Vol. 1 by Ted Naifeh and Elmer Damaso (Seven Seas)
Vampire Cheerleaders in Space…and Time?! by Adam Arnold and Shiei (Seven Seas)
Vampire Cheerleaders Must Die! by Adam Arnold and Michael Shelfer (Seven Seas)
Vampire Cheerleaders/Paranormal Mystery Squad Vol. 1-2 by Adam Arnold, Ian Cang, Shiei and Comipa (Seven Seas)
Archer Coe and the Thousand Natural Shocks Vol. 1 and #1-14 by Jamie S. Rich and Dan Christensen (Oni Press)
Bad Medicine #1-3 by Nunzio DeFilippis, Christina Weir and Christopher Mitten (Oni Press)
Captain Midnight Vol. 1-2 and #0-12 by Joshua Williamson, Victor Ibanez, Pere Perez, Eduardo Francisco, Fernando Dagnino and various (Dark Horse Comics)
Curb Stomp #1-4 by Ryan Ferrier and Devaki Neogi (BOOM! Studios)
Deep State #1-3 by Justin Jordan and Ariela Kristantina (BOOM! Studios)
Help Us! Great Warrior #1-2 by Madéleine Flores (BOOM! Studios)
The F1rst Hero #1-4 by Anthony Ruttgaizer, Lee Moder, and Phillip Sevy (Action Lab Entertainment)
The Order of Dagonet #1-3 by Jeremy Whitley and Jason Strutz (Action Lab Entertainment)
The Other Dead collection and #1-6 by Kevin Eastman, Digger T. Mesch, Joshua Ortega, Reynir Hauksson and Qing Ping Mui (IDW Publishing)
Transformers Animated – The Arrival #2-6 by Marty Isenberg,
Boo, Dario Brizuela and Marcelo Matere (IDW Publishing)
Welcome to Hoxford #1-4 by Ben Templesmith (IDW Publishing)
To learn more or order a copy of The Black Hood, visit:
Duane Swierczynski is the author of several crime thrillers, including the Shamus Award-winning Fun and Games, the first in the Charlie Hardie series published by Mulholland Books, as well as the Edgar-nominated and Anthony Award-winning Expiration Date. Many of these books are currently in development for film and TV. He currently writes the IDW series Judge Dredd, the Valiant Comics series Bloodshot, the forthcoming Dark Horse series X, and has written about the Punisher, Godzilla, Cable, Black Widow and Deadpool. Duane has also collaborated with CSI creator Anthony E. Zuiker on a series of bestselling “digi-novels” which include Level 26: Dark Origins, Dark Prophecy and Dark Revelations.